The Impact of Double All-Americans

There has been much recent (justified) chatter that UK may have two All-Americans on its team right now - Meeks and Patterson.  While individual accolades are nice, I'm sure all Kentucky fans are much more concerned with how the team does.  So how have teams that have had two All-Americans done where it matters the most - the NCAA tournament?

Let's look at the data.

I went back over the last 20 years, and used the AP All-American 1st-3rd teams.  I ignored Honorable Mention.  Looking at the raw data, there were 30 sets of double (or more) All-Americans.  Only two years did not have a team that doubled up - '03-'04 and '95-96.  Out of this raw data, there were 3 occurrences of triple All-Americans, which I will exclude for this analysis.  Additionally, there are two "outliers" that I will also toss from the data set - Indiana last year (during the middle of their implosion), and Loyola Marymount in '89-'90 (gimmicky offense, mid-major conference, Hank Gathers factor).  So that leaves us with 25 good data points, which are presented below (excluded data points also shown below for completeness).

Year School All-American (Team) NCAA Seed Finish
07-08 UCLA Love (1), Collison (3) 1 Nat'l Semi
  Memphis Douglas-Roberts (1), Rose (3) 1 Final
  Indiana White (2), Gordon (3) 8 1st Round
06-07 Florida Noah (2), Horford (3) 1 Champion
05-06 Duke Redick (1), Williams (1) 1 Sweet 16
  Villanova Foye (1), Ray (3) 1 Elite 8
04-05 Illinois Head (2), Brown (2), Williams (3) 1 Final
  Duke Redick (1), Williams (3) 1 Sweet 16
03-04   None    
02-03 Kansas Collison (1), Hinrich (3) 2 Final
01-02 Duke Williams (1), Dunleavy (2), Boozer (3) 1 Sweet 16
00-01 Duke Battier (1), Williams (1) 1 Champion
  Mich St Richardson (2), Bell (3) 1 Nat'l Semi
99-00 Duke Battier (2), Carrawell (2) 1 Sweet 16
  Mich St Peterson (2), Cleaves (2) 1 Champion
98-99 Duke Brand (1), Langdon (2) 1 Final
97-98 Arizona Bibby (1), Simon (1), Dickerson (3) 1 Elite 8
  Kansas LaFrentz (1), Pierce (1) 1 Elite 8
  UNC Jamison (1), Carter (2) 1 Nat'l Semi
96-97 Kansas LaFrentz (1), Vaughn (2) 1 Sweet 16
95-96   None    
94-95 Wake Forest Childress (2), Duncan (3) 1 Sweet 16
  UNC Stackhouse (1), Wallace (2) 2 Nat'l Semi
93-94 Michigan Rose (2), Howard (3) 3 Elite 8
92-93 Duke Hurley (1), Hill (3) 3 2nd Round
91-92 Duke Laettner (1), Hurley (3) 1 Champion
  Arkansas Day (3), Mayberry (3) 3 2nd Round
90-91 UNLV Augmon (1), Johnson (1) 1 Nat'l Semi
89-90 Loy. Marymt. Kimble (2), Gathers (3) 11 Elite 8
  Georgia Tech Scott (2), Anderson (3) 4 Nat'l Semi
88-89 Oklahoma King (1), Blaylock (2) 1 Sweet 16
  Georgetown Smith (2), Mourning (3) 1 Elite 8

Of the 25 teams, the lowest seed received was a #4 by Georgia Tech in '89-'90, and that team made it all the way to the Final Four.  A whopping 19 teams (76%) received a #1 seed.  So clearly, a double All-American team is usually one of the elite regular season teams.

As for the tournament itself, these results are slightly more variable, as one would expect.  Four teams (16%) went on to win the title.  The earliest exits were in the second round twice - Arkansas in '91-'92 as a #3 seed, and Duke also as a #3 seed a year later.  What I find most interesting is 13 teams went on to the Final Four - that means the median finish (half above, half below) was a berth in the National Semis.

So what does this mean for Kentucky?  At first cut, nothing, since each year and situation is independent.  Likewise, this analysis does not address whether two All-Americans is causative (if you have two All-Americans, you will do well), or correlative (teams with two All-Americans also typically do well).

But it does show that the vast majority of teams that had two All-Americans are usually very good teams.  If UK truly does have two All-Americans on its hands, this should be a very successful season, despite what other limitations we may have.  I'm sure most of these teams cited above had some flaws, but yet were able to overcome them due to their two studs.

Will Kentucky buck the trend?  Will we have two All-Americans but have a ho-hum regular season followed by an early tournament exit?  Perhaps, but the historical analysis says that would be an extremely unlikely event.  GO CATS!!

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